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Just Found Out About "The Windows Tax"

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I was looking up information on my IBM Thinkpads and came across something I had never heard of before. I did a forum search and found nothing relating to it. I also didn't know where to post this ... it would be for any OS I guess, so I thought "General Discussion" would be the right place. Please move it if it should be somewhere else.

I'm sure most people computer people here already knew about the "Microsoft Tax" or Windows Tax but in case there are a few people around, like me, who had no knowledge of it ... they may find this interesting and some members who have more knowledge about it may have some things to add or say.

OK, I have 3 IBM Thinkpad computers (T Series) and was looking something up about monitors (from another thread) and I came across this statement in the article dealing with Thinkpads.

"Lenovo does charge a "Microsoft tax" to all buyers even if they have no intention of running Microsoft software on their ThinkPad."



then: The "Windows tax" and "Windows Refund" ...


... I guess it's just a "license fee" ... It does say that a person can avoid the so called tax by simply assembling a computer from individually purchased parts or purchasing a computer from an OEM that does not bundle Windows. It is interesting that some people have been able to obtain a "refund" of the tax but not all.

"One of the ways Microsoft combats piracy is by advising OEMs that they will be charged a higher price for Windows unless they drastically limit the number of PCs that they sell without an operating system pre-installed. In 2009, Microsoft stated that it has always charged OEMs about $50 for a Windows license on a $1,000 computer."

It seems reasonable I guess, years back ... I paid around a $100 for a copy of Windows 98SE through eBay.

Some License refund cases


* In 2006, a British man, Dave Mitchell, purchased a Dell Inspiron 640m laptop bundled with Microsoft Windows XP Home SP2 pre-installed, but did not accept Microsoft's End User License Agreement (EULA). Within one week of requesting a refund from Dell, the customer received a "goodwill" refund of GBP £47 (£55.23 including VAT) from Dell for a "no Windows" option, as the copy of the system was an "unused product" according to the software license agreement. Dell had not asked for the installation medium to be returned and commented that although it doesn't have a Windows refund program, giving a refund in an individual case isn't forbidden either.[20][21]

* In the same period, a Swiss man received a refund of about CHF 150 from Dell. The laptop model and refund procedure was the same.

* In 2007, Serge Wroclawski, an American Dell customer purchased a laptop and received $52.50 refund from Dell for unused Windows bundled to the computer.

* According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German Dell customer replaced the preinstalled Windows with Linux and was credited the amount of €78 for the operating system and a further unspecified Microsoft program.


# A French court ordered Acer to refund the purchase price of pre-installed laptop software amounting to €135.20 for Windows XP Home.

# Acer US has a Windows refund program where a user can ship a computer with an unused copy of Windows to the Acer service center and have the computer returned without Windows for a refund.


Lenovo states that it "does not provide refunds or credits for portions of a packaged offering provided at a single price or for preloaded programs installed by Lenovo".

... however, they have made refund payments in some court cases mentioned in the article.

The difficulties associated with getting a Windows refund from OEMs have evoked a strong response from the public. Websites have been created for the specific purpose of spreading information about the issue and educating others on their options for getting a refund. In the past, public events, such as the Windows refund day in 1999 which gained significant media attention, have been organized.

I got my first computer in 1998 ... a clearance Windows 95 setup since Windows 98 was now all the rage. However, I don't remember anything about "the Windows Refund Day in 1999" or anything similar.

I just found all this interesting from the past just to make mention of it here. This would be the "only" income MS would get for a manufacturer to be able to use their OS in a computer so $50 seems reasonable for them to collect ... or am I missing something, do they also collect more money from a manufacturer? So it's the price of "doing business" and is a licensing fee for using a Windows OS but becomes a "tax" if you do not want a Windows OS installed.


Edited by duffy98

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I've never heard of that either. But all the OEMs mentioned are high volume ones and cater to the retail market. I would imagine it is just plain easier for them to create a singular product (say Thinkpad model whatever) for the retail market and it can only be purchased with a Windows OS on it. In a retail setting there would be no reason for say Best Buy to carry model with OS and without and let the customer pick which they want. There shouldn't be a reason why you couldn't get said Thinkpad directly from Lenovo without an OS... but I think what it is that all their products are mass produced in an assembly line. They all get Windows and all the same stuff. Then Lenovo already had paid for the COA on each. They go right from the factory to the warehouse waiting to be purchased.

So it makes sense to me in a mass produced case like that, why the OS would be mandatory. While some mentioned OEMs can do a BTO those are probably in the majority compared to whatever else they are selling.

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Trip, you are missing a part.

I am not saying this, is the "Finding on facts" in the known US vs. Microsoft case.


Basically till recently (and there are also some doubts after 2010) MS substantially forced the OEM's to ship PC's with their installed OS,

by advising OEMs that they will be charged a higher price for Windows unless they drastically limit the number of PCs that they sell without an operating system pre-installed.


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